In the past 3 years, we have witnessed a historic drought that compelled the legislature to enact the first groundwater regulation laws in California history (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and prompted the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) to undertake and update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan by issuing the Substitute Environmental Document (SED), which requires “unimpaired” flow standards on our rivers. These two regulations/laws contradict each other and could have dire consequences to the District and our customers (both agricultural and municipal)!
First, the SGMA regulates the amount of groundwater that can be pumped from our basin. We must convince the Department of Water Resources that we have a plan to minimize groundwater pumping. In order to keep our basin sustainable, we must use every drop of surface water we possibly can to replace groundwater pumping.
Second, the unimpaired flow standard in the SED intends to take nearly all of our surface water and release it to the Delta to support fish populations. Without that water, we have no ability to comply with the SGMA. Clearly, there is a real problem here!
Stockton East has been combining forces with other Districts, Cities and Counties affected to assemble strategic arguments, and if need be, a legal plan to fight the State’s current agenda. We have, and will continue to offer, reasonable and rational ideas and proposals to improve our environment and sustain our community. As of the date of this letter, our proposals have been rejected because they do not offer more surface water to the State.
Please contact the District if you would like to learn more about this subject.